Flash Friday 12/10/2012: Unwanted Hold-Ups
Carl pulled the balaclava over his face. It was showtime.
He peeked back around the corner of the alleyway, his hand resting on the handle of his pistol. His target seemed an easy one; a woman, maybe in her late twenties,with no clue as to what neighbourhood she just walked into. If she did, she wouldn’t be carrying around her handbag for all to see. Carl liked to think that what he did was a warning to the clueless; a harrowing shock for sure, but nothing as bad as what usually happened to lonely women in this pocket.
Of course, Carl never taught anyone for free.
As the footsteps got close, he pulled the pistol from his pocket, took a deep breath, and spun around to face the woman, aiming the gun with one hand at her head. The woman gasped and froze in place, her eyes fixated on the gun. He’d seen it before, the fear of a single pull on a trigger; he just hoped he wouldn’t have to do it.
“So this is how this is going to go,” he said, in the calmest tone he could muster. “You’re going to give me everything you have in that bag of yours, and then we’ll go ahead and part ways. Never have to see each other’s face again. You do anything stupid — you try to scream for help, fight me, act like you’re Wonder Woman — I’m going to have to protect myself. That includes leaving no witnesses, if you catch my drift. So what will it be?” He took another breath in an attempt to stabilise his shaking hand. “Your goods, or death?”
The woman’s fearful demeanour melted. “Oh,” she said, with a smile. “I’ll take death, please.”
Carl rubbed his face with his free hand. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“Death? The second one? I’ll take that one, please.” She gave a friendly nod. “Thanks.”
“…I mean, you can just give your possessions over and I won’t have to kill you–”
“I know, I know. It’s just, you know…” The woman looked to the sky, as if searching for something. “Perhaps I should explain myself. I’m a writer. And one thing I don’t have any of is time.” She gave a shrug. “I mean, you think you have it, and then you look at a cat picture on the internet or something, and bam. All that time flies away. Until I can support myself with my art, I have to take a day job, which cuts down on my writing time as-is. But hey — if you shoot me, then everything is sorted. I can be a ghost, and I won’t have to eat or sleep or pay rent or any of that baloney. I can just write, you know? Maybe…” Her brow furrowed as she rubbed her chin. “Maybe I need to strike a deal with God first to become a poltergeist. So I can touch the keyboard.”
“You want me to shoot you so you can become a ghost?”
“Sure. In fact, I’d be a full time ghost writer!” Carl watched in horror as the lady gave a hefty laugh over the idea of being shot in the face. “Then I’d be able to go to all the book signings I want to, and never tire. Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely?”
“No.” Carl shook his head. “That’s horrific.”
“Well I can’t just hand over my bag, can I? That’s got my notebook in it, with all the stories on it. How would I be an author without my stories? So I’ll take death, please.” She closed her eyes, as if expecting Carl to be mad enough to shoot her. “When you’re ready.”
Carl stammered. He brought the pistol down from the woman’s face and placed it in his pocket. “Listen, lady,” he said, placing both hands on her shoulders. “I’m gonna let you go, but only because I’m genuinely terrified to shoot you. Don’t go to the police, don’t tell anyone you met me, just…get yourself to a psychiatrist as soon as possible and sort that suicide agenda out.”
“Oh, what happens if I do tell?” She beamed a grin. “Will you shoot me then? For ‘grassing’?”
“Yes. No, I mean…” Carl sighed, his brain spinning a mile a minute. “Look, just don’t let anyone know I was here. Go find a reason to stay alive. There are people here far more obliging to kill you should you say that kinda stuff to them.”
“And where do they live?”
Carl threw his arms in the air and turned back down his alley, leaving the pleas of addresses and phone numbers behind him. A day job was sounding better every minute.